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Labor Day

Labor Day
Your Price: $15.95 CDN
Author: A.R. Gurney
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 71
Pub. Date: 1999
ISBN-10: 082221685X
ISBN-13: 9780822216858
Cast Size: 2 women, 3 men

About the Play:

Labor Day is a full-length drama by A.R. Gurney. The play portrays the life of a playwright who recently has completed his latest work. Loosely based on his own family, his play deals with his relationships with them, his recent battle with cancer and his questions of how that battle will affect the rest of his life. When his family discovers just how much of their lives he's put in the play, a sometimes funny, sometimes harsh squabble ensues.

Labor Day tells the story of John, the main character from The Cocktail Hour, an aging playwright recovering from a bout with cancer. His large family – four kids, six grandchildren, and his wife – surrounds him at his Connecticut writer's studio and farmhouse for the Labor Day holiday. Dennis, a young director who has overseen several of John's plays in the past, interrupts festivities with to say John's latest play needs a little work. It's drawn some interest; backers for two productions – one in a major regional theatre, one on Broadway – are ready to go, and a Hollywood star might read the script. One problem: No one except John likes the ending of the play, which he views as his best, if possibly his last. Dennis feels the play has been adversely affected by the playwright's illness, becoming too inverted and sentimental. When John's family find out the play is primarily about them, they also criticize the enterprise. It is soon obvious that the playwright – and aging father – doesn't really know either his family or himself. Labor Day reveals the age-old conflict between art and life and the hard labour it takes to reconcile the two. In the end, life wins, hands down.

Labor Day premiered in 1998 at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California and transferred to the Manhattan Theatre Club (MTC) off-Broadway in New York City. The play has been performed in regional and community theatre productions.

Cast: 2 women, 3 men

What people say:

"Labor DayA.R. Gurney's … latest offers the Pirandellian kick of seeing the play-within-the-play that is stirring the characters to a tizzy come to life before our very eyes … This is a summer breeze of a comedy, a September song about nearing life's end that has been transposed to a major key, leaving us on a lingering note of love and blue sky. The evening is so airy that it is easy to overlook the craft with which it has been spun and the welcome mocking tone that keeps it aloft." — New York Newsday

"A.R. Gurney's gentle comic touch is as sure as ever here … Gurney can illuminate with graceful comic prose the deep recesses of sadness and disappointment that lie beneath layers of smooth sociability." — Variety

About the Playwright:

A.R. Gurney (1930-2017) is known as one of the most prolific and produced playwrights in America. His work focuses primarily on the issues and realities of middle-class American life and has been produced on international theatre stages for more than 50 years. He is also the author of three novels and a two-time Pulitzer Prize for Drama nominee, the recipient of the Drama Desk Award, and the Award of Merit from the Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

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